Assistant Professor in the Department of Family Science at the University of Maryland School of Public Health
Dr. Jessica Fish is Assistant Professor in the Department of Family Science at the University of Maryland School of Public Health and the Deputy Director for Research and Evaluation of the CDC-funded University of Maryland Prevention Research Center. Her research and scholarship is in services to understanding the well-being of lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer/questioning youth and their families. She has published over 70 peer-reviewed studies and book chapters on the topic of LGBTQ youth, development, and health. Broadly, her research aims to identify modifiable factors that contribute to LGBTQ-related health disparities in order to inform developmentally-sensitive policies, programs, and prevention strategies that promote the health of sexual and gender minority people across the life course.
President & CEO National 4-H Council
Jennifer Sirangelo is a believer in young people and their capacity to change the world. She leads National 4-H Council in its mission to increase investment and participation in high-quality 4-H positive youth development programs.
Sirangelo joined Council in 2006 to grow support for America’s largest youth development organization. Council is the non-profit partner to the nation’s 4-H movement, supporting leadership development for nearly six million young people through diverse and inclusive programs in agriculture, science, health and civic engagement by way of alliances with America’s philanthropic sector.
Sirangelo is currently leading the largest brand and alumni activation initiative in 4-H history, in partnership with America’s land-grant universities and Cooperative Extension System as well as the United States Department of Agriculture. She is the recipient of the 2020 Gold Stevie® Female Executive of the Year Award for women in business. In 2017, Sirangelo was named to Fast Company’s annual list of the 100 Most Creative People in Business.
Sirangelo is a member of Fortune’s Most Powerful Women and a member of the Forbes Nonprofit Council. She also serves on the AgriCorps Board, is an Advisor to the Global 4-H Network Board and is a member of the Farm Foundation Round Table.
Deputy Assistant Secretary for Civil Rights
Monica Armster Rainge was appointed Deputy Assistant Secretary for Civil Rights at the U.S. Department of Agriculture. Rainge is an agricultural lawyer and mediator. She has worked in the public and private agricultural sectors for more than 25 years. Most recently, she served as the Director of Land Retention and Advocacy for the Federation of Southern Cooperatives/Land Assistance Fund where she led the development and management of outreach and technical assistance programs that support regional land retention and advocacy initiatives for socially disadvantaged farmers and ranchers.
Rainge also directed the Federation’s Regional Heirs Property and Mediation Center which provides USDA-certified mediation services in Georgia, Mississippi, and Louisiana. Her professional experience with the Federation of Southern Cooperatives/Land Assistance Fund dates back to 1996 when she served as a college intern under the USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service Internship Program.
Experienced in agricultural policy development and program management, she previously served as the Florida State Coordinator for the Federation of Southern Cooperatives/Land Assistance Fund. She has managed regional USDA projects focusing on outreach and technical assistance to socially disadvantaged farmers and ranchers. Rainge has a long track record of working at the federal and state level to advocate for underserved and marginalized communities. Before her appointment, Rainge served as an executive board member and treasurer of the National Family Farm Coalition and served on the boards of the Southern Rural Development Center and Farmers Legal Action Group (FLAG).
“A proud alumna of an 1890 HBCU, a former USDA intern, and a Master 4-H'er of Georgia, Monica is one of the most influential female leaders in agriculture today and we’re grateful to have her on the team,” said Katharine Ferguson, Chief of Staff in the Office of the Secretary. “She has dedicated her career in law and advocacy to fighting for underserved and marginalized communities in food, agriculture and natural resources management. She will help to lead our efforts to ensure equity across the Department, remove barriers to access and root out systemic racism, and build a workforce more representative of America.”
Rainge holds a bachelor’s degree in agricultural business from Florida Agricultural and Mechanical University, an 1890 public historically black land-grant university, and a juris doctor from the University of Florida. She earned a master’s degree in Agricultural Law from the University of Arkansas School of Law’s Graduate Program in Agricultural Law.
Mental and Behavioral Health Specialist for University of Maryland Extension Family & Consumer Sciences (FCS) Program
Alex Chan is the mental and behavioral health specialist for University of Maryland Extension Family & Consumer Sciences (FCS) Program. He brings practical knowledge and experience in stress management, family relations, and adolescent development. Prior to taking on the Specialist role, Alex worked as the 4-H Youth Development Agent for Prince George's County, Maryland. He holds master's and doctoral degrees in Human Development and Family Studies from Auburn University. Alex is also a Licensed Marriage & Family Therapist in Maryland and the District of Columbia.
Extension Regional Specialist, 4-H Youth Development
Alison White joined the WSU Extension team in 2013. As a regional faculty member, Alison works in both Yakima and Kittitas counties providing leadership, with an emphasis on youth development research and fund development, for 4-H Youth Development programs.
After earning her bachelors in Natural Resource Sciences, concentration in Wildlife Ecology, from Washington State University (Go Cougs!), she continued on to receive a Master’s in Education, focused in Curriculum and Instruction, from the University of Washington. In the decade prior to this appointment, she held teaching positions throughout Washington, Idaho and Taiwan primarily focused on natural resource science and community-based education.
Before joining the WSU Extension team, Alison was the Nature Science Director of the Yakima Area Arboretum and an Environmental Educator for the North Yakima Conservation District.
Director of Operations and Systems for the University of Minnesota Extension Center for Youth Development
Rebecca Harrington is the Director of Operations and Systems for the University of Minnesota Extension Center for Youth Development, a role she's held since January 2020. Her current responsibilities include strategic planning, budget and policy development and monitoring, and continuous improvement of systems (human resources, volunteers). Prior to this role, she provided leadership to the Extension Center for Youth Development volunteer systems work as the Volunteer Systems Director. She has contributed to the development of a statewide volunteer orientation, online volunteer trainings, and a process to develop and strengthen county volunteer systems that has been used in multiple states. From 2010-2017 she worked with a team of educators and 4-H program coordinators in the northwest region and had specific regional functions related to volunteer systems; past responsibilities also included animal science and community youth worker training. She has worked in 4-H youth development for 27 years, including 14 years in a county role.
Assistant Professor, Behavioral and Community Health
Dr. Elizabeth Aparicio is a community-engaged, clinically trained scholar whose work aims to improve health equity through informing and testing mental health and sexual and reproductive health interventions for trauma-affected and marginalized children, youth, and families. Using a trauma-informed care and reproductive justice framework, she has particular expertise in addressing the mental health and sexual and reproductive health needs of youth in and formerly in foster care and youth experiencing homelessness. LGBTQ youth are heavily overrepresented in both of these populations. Dr. Aparicio draws upon nearly a decade of direct clinical social work practice as well as ongoing relationships with community-based organizations when conducting her research. Dr. Aparicio's current research includes several active funded studies with LGBTQ youth, including (1) assessing the mental health and sexual health needs of LGBTQ youth in foster care (community partners: Hearts and Homes for Youth, Prince Georges County Department of Social Services) and (2) testing a training program for mental health providers serving LGBTQ clients as part of her work with the UMD Prevention Research Center (funder: CDC). Dr. Aparicio directs the Community THRIVES Lab, a research group of on- and off-campus research-practice partners that conduct Community-engaged Transformative Health Research at the Intersection of family Violence, Early childhood, and adolescent Sexual health intervention. Dr. Aparicio is also the Deputy Director for Clinical Training and Intervention and a core research scientist of the UMD Prevention Research Center, and a faculty affiliate of the UMD Center for Health Equity and UMD Center on Young Adult Health and Development.
Extension Professor with the University of Minnesota Extension Center for Youth Development
Jessica is an associate Extension professor with the University of Minnesota Extension Center for Youth Development. She leads program growth and innovation across Minnesota, with an emphasis on building the capacity of staff and volunteers to conduct and lead local program planning in communities with high concentrations of diversity. Jessica received her master of education from the University of Minnesota with an emphasis on racial reconciliation. Jessica is a certified language arts teacher and a naturalist and has worked with youth in public, private, and alternative schools, in both formal and nonformal settings across the US since 1997.
Associate Extension Professor at the University of Minnesota
Joe Rand (he/him/his) is an Associate Extension Professor at the University of Minnesota. He has facilitated equity and inclusion workshops related to LGBTQ+ youth within the Minnesota 4-H program, the broader Minnesota Extension program, and with a variety of youth and family service organizations throughout Minnesota. He serves as an advisor for his local Gender and Sexuality Alliance comprised of rural queer youth and allies. He also serves as co-chair of the national LGBTQ+ subgroup of the Access Equity and Belonging committee of the 4-H Program Leaders Workgroup working to create equitable spaces within youth development settings for queer and trans youth. He received his M.Ed. in Youth Development Leadership at the University of Minnesota.
4-H Youth Development Advisor with the University of California
Liliana Vega is a 4-H Youth Development Advisor with the University of California in Santa Barbara and San Luis Obispo Counties. She’s been a 4-H Educator for over 12 years. Liliana's expertise is reaching and culturally adapting programs for Latinx communities, JEDI (Justice, Equity, Diversity, & Inclusion) and positive youth development.
Assistant Director of the Office of Multicultural Student Affairs and Coordinator of LGBTQA+ Initiatives
Lu Ferrell is the Assistant Director of the Office of Multicultural Student Affairs and Coordinator of LGBTQA+ Initiatives at the University of New Hampshire. Lu holds a Bachelor’s of Science in Multimedia Graphic Design from Champlain College and a Masters of Education in Higher Education and Student Affairs Administration from the University of Vermont. Lu has a strong personal and professional commitment to social justice education and working with underrepresented groups. At UNH some of the responsibilities Lu coordinates is the Safe Zones Program, #RealTalk the intersectional dialogue series, and also serves is a member of the President’s Commission on LGBTQ+ issues. Lu serves on two subcommittees within the commission which are the Transgender Policy and Climate Committee and the Queer Professional Development Working Group. Lu lives in Dover, NH with their partner and cat. Lu’s gender pronouns: They/Them/Theirs
Youth and Family Issue Leader and Team Member, NYS 4-H Program
Melissa (Mel) Schroeder is responsible for the management and stewardship of 4-H Youth
Development, Hidden Valley 4-H Camp, 21 st Century Afterschool Program and Parenting
Education. Mel provides leadership to the team on curriculum, professional development,
connection from local County Association to Campus resources and research. Mel has worked
on the Positive Youth Development (PYD 101) online curriculum training and is a trainer for the
project in NYS. Mel is a member of the NYS Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Cohort team, and
also a member of the American Camp Association’s Advisory Committee for DEI. Mel works
towards weaving all aspects of positive youth development and DEI to help promote spaces
where all youth feel a sense of belonging and can thrive. As a team member with the NYS 4-H
program Mel concentrates on training and curriculum for NYS 4-H camps that focus on positive
youth development, the 4-H Thriving Model, creating, identifying, and supporting 4-H Safer
Spaces along with DEI and Belonging.
Maryland 4-H Program Leader
Dr. Nia Imani Fields is the Maryland 4-H Program Leader and Assistant Director of Maryland Extension. Dr. Fields has a doctorate in Urban Affairs and Public Policy from Morgan State University and has a long career in youth and community engagement.
As the Maryland 4-H Program Leader, Dr. Fields provides leadership and direction for 4-H Youth Development programs, faculty and staff. Her true purpose in life is to expose as many young people as possible to new and exciting experiences—experiences that encourage youth to dream BIG!
LGBTQ+ Adocate with 25 Years of Experience
During her tenure with OUT Maine, Sue has provided the guidance for deepening and expanding the programs which build the welcoming and affirming communities for Maine's LGBTQ+ youth. Sue's 25 years of experience working with school superintendents, administrators and other school staff through her work on local and state school boards have been instrumental in the development of OUT Maine's integrated school climate work. OUT Maine's statewide, three-pronged approach: support LGBTQ+ youth and their families and allies; empower the youth; and educate professionals to be adults whose support can change young people’s lives has been the foundation of success for thousands of Maine's LGBTQ+ youth. Sue also is the parent of a trans son. She has first-hand experience in supporting the transition process and working with family issues around transitioning, giving her expertise that supports youth, families, and efforts to change the systems that serve them: schools, health care, foster care, community organizations, and more.